Now this may surprise you, or even come as a shock, but I have not always been the urban sophisticate, man about town you see (or at least read) before you here today.
I was thinking about this during my lunch walk, which takes me into and around downtown Seattle. My route takes me by many different little microcosms of the city. There is the homeless (or at least wayward) youth shelter. Passing that there is always a herd of kids on the corner talking, cussing and flipping each other crap, I saw a lady today scurry by them quickly holding her purse dearly. They’ve never bugged me, so I tend to ignore them.
Then there is the Greyhound bus station. Damn you NEVER know what you will see there. Riding the dog should only be done by college kids. The people who hang around there quite frequently don’t look like they are all there… And some look like something out of the Walking Dead. But then if I was riding the bus again, neither would I.
Then I hit the shopping and restaurant district. Here the ladies are dressed to the 9’s, business skirts, serious heels, and just daring someone to get in their way. Then back past the gay bars, 24 hour fitness, 6 different Starbucks, and then yuppieville, and finally REI, and back to work.
The whole time I am dodging panhandlers, bad drivers, worse cyclists and myriad of weird-looking stuff on the sidewalk. (Both animate and inanimate objects) I take it all in stride, and most days don’t even notice these things.
But, as I said, it wasn’t always this way. I remember my first real trip to Seattle. Now as a kid we’d go to Seattle Center and ride the rides. But otherwise I was raised on Army Bases, and went to college in a one horse town called Pullman. Basically, I was sheltered….
Well in 1987 (I believe) we all decided to go to Seattle to have a few beers and dance. (Yes with enough beer I danced back then, not well, but danced.) Somehow we decided on going to Doc Maynards. A very old bar, in one of the oldest parts of Seattle, Pioneer Square.
Well Trish and I parked and started walking to the bar. It was already dark, and not 3 ft from the car, I met my first panhandler. Here was some guy, in the dark, kinda scary looking, asking me for money! Trish got me past that, and we got in line at the bar. (I was a bit wigged out)
While standing in line, I looked around, just in time to see to HUGE rats run across the walk not 5 feet in front of us! HUGE!! RATS!!! I’d never seen a rat outside a lab in college….
Yes, I lost it!! “Where the HELL are we, there’s rats and people asking me for money, its dark and there’s rats!!!” This was NOT my proudest moment!!
Now had this happened now, there would be 3 Starbucks within spittin distance. Back then, NOT so much! This was BC! (Before Coffee in Seattle!) Luckily though, there was a place across the street that was open, can’t remember what it was. But Trish got me there, it had light, she got me coffee and calmed me down. (Looking back, feel kinda sorry for her having to deal with the meltdown! Thanks Trish!!)
After a couple cups and a cookie, I was in some control, then our friends started showing up. We went back across the street, I ignored the rodents and the panhandlers, and concentrated on the door! Once inside, I made a beeline for the bar, and after a couple beers, life was good again!
Yes, my first real experience in Seattle did NOT start well, but by the end, all was fine, and we went back there MANY times!
Nowadays, its hard for me to believe I was “meltdown boy” but then again, it just goes to show how much we actually change as we “grow up”. What scared the spit out me then, is common place now.I have walked through downtown at all hours, no worries at all. I still hate rats, and not partial to people asking me for money, but now its the norm and I just go about my business like nothing ever happened.
But sometimes, I have to smile and laugh at the naive kid who never saw the city in the dark….